While not a very insightful romance movie, despite it starring some kind of “guru,” The Bounce Back is cute. Even if it follows the usual romance movie formula.
Since his ex-wife Julie (Denise Boutte), abruptly ended their marriage years ago, Matthew (Shemar Moore) has been trying to figure out a way to move on. Thus giving birth to “The Bounce Back” after discovering a way. Said way is to deny the past, to bounce back from it. Something which, during a seminar, a therapist, named Kristin (Nadine Velazquez), questions due to her patients believing what he is touting. Leading to, thanks to a big-time producer named Sam (Robinne Lee), Kristin joing Matthew on his book press tour. One in which she challenges his views and he slowly wins over her heart.
However, with him not really over his ex-wife, so comes the question if either are ready to move forward? Especially since they both are nursing a broken heart. One which would rather sabotage a potentially good thing then get hurt again.
[…] I really believe that we have to stop thinking that love just happens. That somehow, we are helpless and just along for the ride. I honestly believe that we make that choice.
The Father/ Daughter Relationship
Though not a strong focus, you have to take note of Matthew’s relationship with his daughter Aleya (Nadja Alaya). If only because it felt like there wasn’t some agenda of using her to make him seem like a good guy or to prove he was intimate with his ex-wife. Their relationship felt like its own thing. So even though we didn’t get to fully experience their closeness, you can see a certain chemistry there. The type which made it seem these two actors were reconnecting. As if they were picking right up from a relationship established on a multi-season sitcom.
Calling Out Non-Doctors Giving Advice
Though no particular names are mentioned, Kristin calling out self-help gurus who only have opinions but no real research and education to back those up, I thought was hilarious. Especially in light of a lot of Black men, like Steve Harvey or Tyrese, who try to present all the answers but, unlike Moore’s character, are sometimes arrogant about their opinion. Almost to the point that even when all signs point to them being wrong, they stand their ground because of their ego.
So to have a character like Kristin who constantly picks at that, it was a nice addition.
The Complicated Breakup
Julie and Matthew’s breakup is given some realm of complication. He loved her more than she loved him and there came a point she couldn’t and wouldn’t keep trying to match him anymore. So, she ended things amicably enough where they can still co-parent. Which, based off what I usually watch, was a nice change of pace. There was no bad mouthing or him being a straight up ho to get over her. There was, instead, a mourning period, therapy, and some coping mechanism to move forward. Which, as seen, wasn’t perfect, but for the sake of Aleya and peace, they can look at each other without rolling eyes, mumbling an insult, and are presented in a mature fashion than we often see.
Neither Kristin nor Matthew Say Something That Is Like a Punch In The Gut
Between a therapist and a man who had a book, which is touted as a New York Times bestseller, you’d think there would be quite a few lines between the two which would make you want to pause the movie. You know, the type of line which makes you think about a current or past relationship. The kind which makes you reflect on what was good about it, the obstacles, and where either person may have gone wrong. However, there is really no depth to what either of these two say when it comes to relationships. Making Kristin’s criticisms of Matthew relying on his attractiveness to have what he says taken seriously almost seem like the writer wrote their film’s own critique.
The Romantic Formula
Recognizing there are but so many ways people can fall in love, stay in love, and deal with relationship troubles, this film still deserves to be called lazy. If only because it follows the romantic formula almost a T. You got two people who seem to come together mostly because they are attractive. He thinks she is hot, she likes his body, so despite their differences, they fall in love. However, once they realize love is about more than abs and a modelesque body, so comes the problems. Problems which, with a grand romantic gesture, get resolved and then the end.
Something which this film doesn’t get away with doing at all. Reason being, after a certain point, you realize these two don’t have much in the way of chemistry. They are cute together simply because they are attractive as individuals. So when you take away how programmed we are to romanticize two attractive people who get together, you realize their romance is the same stuff offered on FreeForm with less cringey writing.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
I think if you watch The Bounce Back strictly for fun, you might enjoy it. However, the more you analyze it, the more flaws you find. Making every highlight something which could have been done better or should have been given more focus. Especially since, the main thing this film is supposed to be, a romance, just flops so hard. For while Moore and Velazquez do at times look cute together, their chemistry is often minimal.
Hence the Mixed label. for as likable as this movie can be, Moore doesn’t escape this idea that he is a poor studio’s Will Smith. Also, like a lot of Black actors, he doesn’t push past the idea he is just a cute face and a set of abs. Add in the film isn’t insightful on the topic of love nor tries to really do anything different from the norm when it comes to the romance genre, and you’re left with another throwaway film that understandably didn’t get a huge amount of traction. If only because its producer (Shemar Moore) didn’t seek the best man for the lead. Nope, instead he put himself there because he never understood why he was never given his shot. Well, everyone, The Bounce Back is the answer. [note]The cruelty of this review (it sounds cruel when I read it) more so comes from disappointment than anything personal against Shemar Moore, his fellow actors, or the writer.[/note]
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